There are many things that a man needs to do when he becomes a father, and it’s a big shift that can take a lot of getting used to. However, as time goes on, most of these things start to become clear, and even become habits, and that means there are less and less that you have to think about - you’ll just do them because you know precisely what to do and what’s best for your children.
One thing that can be much harder and that often does need more thought going into it is how to set a good example for your kids. That’s something every parent has to do, but it’s also something that is hard to do, often because as we get older, we start to develop bad habits and personality traits that seem natural to us but that we don’t necessarily want our children to do or act like.
So you can see how this isn’t just something that you can wing and hope for the best with - when it comes to setting a good example for your children, you need to plan. With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you get started (but remember, there are a lot more out there so don’t be afraid to come up with your own!).
Have A Hobby
There are many reasons to enjoy a hobby. For one thing, it’s good for you - you’ll either be using your brain or your body (and very often both), meaning you’ll be exercising more (the brain needs to be exercised as much as any other part of the body) and you’ll be away from your screens for at least a little while. Plus, you’ll keep learning - hobbies always involve learning new skills or pieces of information - and that’s great too. And of course, if you have a hobby you love, you’ll never be bored because you’ll always have something to turn to.
Another reason to have a hobby is that it’s a great way to set a good example for your kids. When they see you enjoying something that isn’t work, when they see that you’re having fun, when they know that you don’t feel boredom and that you’re excited about whatever it is you do, they’ll be interested in developing their own hobbies, and then they’ll get all the benefits they can offer - it’s a fantastic idea.
You can do separate hobbies, depending on the things you like (not all children like the same things as their fathers), but it might be that you find something you can do together, such as using a fishing paddle board, for example, and that’s even better - you’ll always have something to bond over, and you can learn from one another, setting a good example as you go.
Be Kind To Others
When it comes to deciding how to set a good example for your children, one way to work out what to do is to think about the kind of people you want them to turn out to be - after all, they’re going to follow your lead, learning from you even when you don’t realize it. That’s why being kind to others is an excellent way to set a great example for your children.
When you interact with people, you always have a choice about how to treat them, and if you can treat them kindly, help where possible, compliment them sincerely, and not get angry in situations that might not be going your way, you’re doing a great thing. Your children will see how you handle these interactions and situations, and they’ll understand how to treat others when they come into contact with them, whether it’s at school, in the playground, or anywhere else. That difference - being kind to someone when the opportunity arises rather than mean or cruel or even indifferent - might not mean all that much to you, but it will mean a massive amount to the person you’re interacting with, and it will make changes in your children’s life for the better. There are no negatives when it comes to being kind, so it’s definitely something to make part of your everyday life.
Focus On Your Health
We all want healthy kids, and it can be a worry if we think they’re eating junk food, not exercising enough, or having too much screen time, for example, not to mention how much of a concern it can be as they get older and they might develop some bad habits like smoking or drinking too much, and so on.
The problem is that if you do these things - if you smoke, if you drink, if you don’t take care of your health by exercising - then why should your children grow up to be any different? They’ll follow your lead, and even if they know inside that it’s not the right choice, that doesn’t mean it won’t still happen because you’re their role model, whether that’s positive or negative, and that kind of link is hard to override.
So, if you want your kids to be healthy, you also need to focus on your health. That means quitting your bad habits, whatever they might be (it’s easy to know if it’s a bad habit; if you do something you wouldn’t want your children to do, it’s bad - it really is that simple) and ensuring that your kids see you taking care of yourself by eating healthy food and exercising. You can’t expect them to eat their vegetables without a fuss if you don’t even put them on your plate to begin with, can you? Setting a great example can sometimes mean making sacrifices, and it can sometimes mean changing your life for the better, and both are equally important. It’s really your job as a father to make sure it happens.
Listen To Them
Listening to your children is important for all kinds of reasons, not least of which is the fact that when you listen, you’ll learn. You’ll learn who they really are, what they think, and what they need from you, and that’s priceless.
What you might not have considered is that listening to your children is also another great way to set a great example for them. Think of the world as it is right now; how many times have you been having a conversation with someone when they’re actually staring at their phones (or even someone who gets their phone out to scroll through their messages or check social media in the middle of a conversation)? Perhaps you’ve even done it yourself. This - and similar things - shows a deep lack of respect, and whether it’s intentional or not (it can often be something of a habit, which is a bad situation to be in by itself), it’s something that needs to stop.
If parents take the time to listen to their children and make a show of putting their devices away, making eye contact, and acknowledging what’s being said, then children will learn that that’s the correct behavior, and if more people do it, those old habits will die out much more quickly. In the short term, you’ll be teaching your kids all about respect and how to listen to people properly (which will benefit them because they’ll understand instructions better, not to mention they’ll be seen as more polite and engaged), and as a bonus, you’ll get to know more about your children, so it’s good all around.
Some people are born organized, and others are just messy and more absent-minded. We’re all different, and this is just one of the ways that people express themselves and live their lives. Before you have children, none of this really matters - you can be disorganized if you want to as it’s only really going to affect you, and that’s just something you need to deal with. However, once you’re a father, things change, and if you’re disorganized and keep losing things, forgetting plans, or you’re always running late (and these are just a few examples of what happens when you’re not organized), you’re going to affect your children too.
You might affect them directly because if you’re late or you forget about things that means they might miss out on important or fun experiences. But more than that, you’ll be affecting them because they’ll grow up to be the same in many cases. They’ll get into the same disorganized habits as you, and because you’re not an organized person, you’ll find it hard to help them change.
By being as organized as you can, this scenario is less likely, but even if your kids aren’t as organized as you, at least you’ll be able to help them and point them in the right direction when they need some help and guidance. It’s definitely better than nothing, and it’s definitely setting a great example.
It’s not always easy to be organized if you’re not usually, but you can start by making to-do lists and using a diary or a calendar - perhaps one the whole family has access to - and going from there. Learn as you go and your life will improve while you also set a great example for your children.